FAQ’s about Designing or Adding a Drive-Thru for a Restaurant

FAQ’s about Designing or Adding a Drive-Thru for a Restaurant

Jul 12, 2021

FAQ’s About Designing or Adding a Drive-Thru for a Restaurant

What is a drive-thru?

A drive-thru is a type of take-out service that allows businesses to serve customers without leaving their car.

What is a drive-thru window?

A drive-thru window is a service window that businesses use to serve customers in the drive-thru lane to purchase products without leaving their car.

It is popularly used in restaurant / fast-food restaurants, pharmacies, convenience stores, toll booths and recently it’s been used for COVID drive-thru testing. The windows are designed for robust and durable operation as these windows are often opened hundreds of times of day and are available in ‘touchless’ automatic operation for hygienic purposes and ease of service.

How much business is generated through the drive-thru?

Many quick serve restaurants (QSR’s) report that over 70% of their total business is derived from the drive-thru.

What are the start-up costs for renovating a restaurant?

The start-up costs for renovating a restaurant can cost between $10,000 to $1,000,000.

How tall are drive-through?

9’ is a common maximum height clearance for a drive-thru lane but it can vary by location.

How wide is a drive-through?

A width of 10’ is common whereas 12’ can be generous but it may depend on the size of vehicles using the drive thru and space available on the property.

However, there are numerous factors to consider, including the turning radius around the building. A 10’ can work on a wider turn but 12’ may be required for tighter turns in the drive-thru lane, especially to avoid curb hopping or black marks on the curbs. Another factor to consider is if an escape lane (also known as passerby lane) is required by the local jurisdiction, in which case you would need to make the lane at least 20’ wide.

How long is a drive-thru lane?

The length of the drive-thru lane will often depend up on the sales volume or number of vehicles that will be lined up in the lane during peak periods.

How high is a drive-thru window?

The elevation height of drive-thru window is typically 32”-36” on the exterior of the building.

If the drive-thru encounters a lot of high sitting vehicles and trucks the elevation may be a bit higher whereas a restaurant that received a variety of high sitting cars and low sitting cars will on average be 34”H from the ground (at which the car is sitting) to the bottom of the window service opening.

What is a service opening?

The service opening is the size of the opening through which you can serve your customers when the window is fully opened.

How large should my service opening size be?

The most common service opening size is 14″W x 29″H.

The service opening size will primarily be determined by the size of the largest item that you are passing through the window. Items such as large soft drinks, bags of food, ice cream or fried can be a large factor in determining the minimum size your service opening needs to be. Many operators also prefer to have a large service opening to provide an inviting and welcoming opening through which to serve customers.

Who manufacturers drive-thru windows?

Quikserv is the leading drive-thru window manufacturer in the world and serves 45 of the 50 leading quick serve restaurant brands. http://www.quikserv.com/

How much does it cost to install a drive-thru window?

The average cost to install a drive-thru window is between $550 – $1000.

The cost to install a drive-thru window can vary by the type and size of window being installed and the local hourly rate of the contractor and/or electrician. If the window is automatic/electric there will be an additional cost to connect the electrical for the window vs a manually operated model. The cost of a manual window (i.e. SC-4030) is typically around $550  – $900 and an electric window (i.e. PW-54E) would be between $750 and $1000.

How much does it cost to build a drive-thru?

Constructing a drive-thru to an already existing restaurant can cost up to 50% of your total capital. The cost of opening a drive-thru can vary from $35,0000 for a small business to $80,000 for a larger business.

However, given that many restaurants derive 75% of their revenue from the drive-thru, it is definitely a worthy investment. Further, some research indicates that on average, sales in the drive-thru are higher per order than a walk-in customer.

How much does it cost to build a fast-food restaurant?

The median start-up cost is usually between $275,000 – $450,000. Full-service franchise restaurants can cost between $750,000 to $3 million or more.

Can I walk through a drive-thru?

No, most drive-thru’s are not designed for people to walk through.

What are walk-up windows?

Walk-up windows provide value added services to customers where a drive-thru may not be practical.

Walk-up windows allow pedestrians to place and pick-up orders on the exterior of the facility. These are popular in areas with high pedestrian traffic to allow a convenient option for customers to take orders on the go or provide an area to serve customers in a high crime area with a walk-up window or transaction drawer.


To learn more about the history of drive-in and drive-thru restaurant service, please visit our blog article on “Celebrating 100 Years of Drive-in and Drive-Thru Service”.

For more information on drive-thru and walk-up windows for your business, please contact a Quikserv sales representatives at 1.800.388.8307.

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